Report stresses importance of international trade in Oregon


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A newly released report revealed how vital trade is to Oregon and Portland’s economy. 

On Wednesday morning, trade organizations gathered at the annual Oregon State of Trade conference to discuss the report and talk about how the current international trade wars affect Oregon.

Oregon’s location along the Pacific Rim offers efficient transport of goods via air, water, rail and road to national and international markets. Also, a growing number of direct air connections is helping connect Oregon businesses to the world and attracting tourists to the state.

Trade is a major driver of Oregon’s economy

From Tillamook Cheese to Columbia Sportswear to Intel, Oregon produced and exported a record $28 billion in goods and services in 2017.

One in five Oregon jobs are connected to international trade, and experts say jobs in trade heavily contribute to the resiliency of Oregon’s economy.

“This really is a trade-dependent region,” John Tapogna, president of ECONorthwest said.

During the conference meeting, experts stressed that trade matters — it creates competition, innovation and higher paying jobs. Those who work in trade earn 11% higher wages and are 3 times more productive, according to the report.

Trade in Oregon at a glance

  • 505,700 jobs connected to trade

  • Average wage is $58,730, which is 11% above state average

  • 12% of gross domestic product depends on exports

  • 88% of exporters are small-medium businesses

“Higher per capita income is a good thing, it makes for a more robust local sector economy,” Tapogna said. “It also helps with the tax base to help with critical services, especially education.”

The threat of protectionist policies, like tariffs with Canada, Mexico and China puts Oregon at risk. Experts said that these policies could potentially lead to loss of market access for products, which in turn may cause job loss and force companies to close. Small companies could lose business and both families and consumers will have to pay more for basic goods.

The report was conducted by ECONorthwest and led by the Portland Business Alliance, Pacific Northwest International Trade Association and the Value of Jobs coalition.

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